The adults v. children meme of facile ed policy talk, part 375

Ruben Navarette (hat tip) captures a thumbnail historical myth embodied in the “adults vs. children” theme in accountability talk:

Public schools have, for generations, crafted an environment that caters to the needs and wants of the adults who work in the schools rather than those of the children who attend them.

As Seymour Sarason has observed, children-first rhetoric such as Navarette voices is actively hostile to reform because it fails to acknowledge some truths about schools as organizations. (Sarason contrasts K-12 schools with higher education, where I work.) Elementary and secondary schools are environments that are about the least adult-friendly you can imagine, outside sweatshops. Where else can adults be vulnerable to being hit by children, be told when they can go to the bathroom, and be told that their own intellectual development does not serve the organization’s interests?

Of course schools serve multiple purposes and interests, and yes, one needs to work with that dynamic. But you don’t work with the dynamic by setting off one group entirely against another, and that is what Navarette implies: It’s a grudge match, teachers vs. students.

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